AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A rule that could effect how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas customers are treated during a health emergency has been postponed for at least 60 days.
Local urgent care centers will not be effected if the new rule were to be put in to place.
However, emergency room services will be impacted and have you double-thinking whether or not you need medical assistance.
"We're concerned about a new rule that Blue Cross Blue Shield is implementing, where they are going to stop paying for out of network ER visits, even when a patient believes they are having an emergency," said ER Now Dr. Gerad Troutman, MD, FACEP.
Medical professionals across the state are concerned the new rule will change the mindset of an emergency.
Once in effect, Texans could be left questioning the state of their own health.
"Those patients now, may stay at home when they are really having an emergency," said Dr. Gerad Troutman. "They [will get] that little twinge of chest pain, and then they think in their head: you know, I might get stuck with that bill, maybe I shouldn't go to the ER. I'll wait around, maybe it's just gas. Then they wind up dead, or have a worsening heart attack and have worsening heart failure because of that."
If the rule is put in to action, local urgent care centers say they could see an increase in patients.
"Hopefully we'll see an increase in the volume of patients, but we're always ready to handle that," said family nurse practitioner for Amarillo Urgent Care Nicole Slatten. "[Amarillo Urgent Care] is open seven days a week, eight [in the morning] to 8 [at night], holidays, weekends and everything. We are able to handle an influx of patients at any given time."
Slatten believes for those who know the difference between an urgent care center and emergency room the new rule won't matter. For those who do not, it could be a teaching moment.
"The group of people who realize the difference between emergency versus urgent care visits," said Slatten. "I think it'll just be education given out by providers to their patients as where to seek care or not to seek care. I think it's just going to be an educational opportunity for the public in general."
Dr. Troutman believes the new rule could lead to dire consequences.
"When Americans have insurance, they expect to have access to emergency care, and we think that this rule decreases that access," Dr. Troutman. "That's a problem. I think Texans and Americans will die because of this type of rule."
All medical professionals would like the public to know if you do have an emergency seek medical attention immediately. Do not worry about what type of emergency it is and whether or not it requires a certain level of care. Go seek a medical professional immediately and call 911 if necessary.